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Question on Nutcracker Score - Sugar Plum Fairy Variation

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Where does the music that Balanchine uses for the Sugar Plum Fairy's first entrance variation figure in the original score? (Assuming that there is a definitive version for an original score). Is it in fact the first (woman's) coda to the grand pas de deux - which is where Morris's Hard Nut at BAM had that music when I saw it last night? It worked pretty well there and balanced the man's coda that came immediately after, with its "boom boom" barrel turn music. Much obliged for any info. MP

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In the Balanchine version, the celesta entrance he uses for the entrance of the Sugar Plum Fairy is integral to the score #10, Scene. Her variation #14c, is then shoehorned in before #11. The male variation, #14b, a sort of wheezy tarantella, is dropped from the production. The pas de deux goes from the adagio #14a to the coda #14d.

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As Mel said, Balanchine changed the order of the Pas for his version, moving the female variation ahead in the act-(way before the actual Pas), and omitting the male variation, thus just presenting the Adagio and Coda.

From the 1892 order...


Prince Coqueluche Variation

Sugar Plum Fairy Variation-(with the celesta music)


(A separate, better coda here... :thumbsup: )


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Yes, but that's not the question being asked here. The Balanchine version changes the score, and even interpolates a part of Sleeping Beauty into the production. The change is relatively little but huge in total effect. The celesta line in the introduction to Act II (#10) is on a rising line of tones, the coda of the variation of the Sugar Plum Fairy is on descending lines. The coda to the variation is a vastly different thing from the coda to the entire pas de deux. Thank you for pointing the similarity out. It used to be that the coda to the variation was an option. Nowadays, it seems to be obligatory.

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Oops...sorry, Mel. I thought that the OP was asking for the 1892 placement of the female variation, which is why I pointed to the spot after the cavalier's variation. I understand that if Balanchine is the version to be familiar with-(and considering the deleted male variation)-, then it is hard to understand that the celesta music is just the ballerina variation in another classical Pas de deux. Also, considering how abused this music has been thru the times-(commercials, malls, etc...)-then it is even harder to imagine it as just a part of a whole context, like this Pas really is...

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Thank you so much. Basically that's the answer and is what I thought. But especially Mel, These numbers - "10, 11, 14a, 14b," etc. - what do these refer back to? Is there a definitive numbered physically written score, or a particular recording you are citing to and if so what is it ?

Thanks again and Happy Holidays to everyone - Michael

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Best yet, the handy-dandy amazon.com link on our headline will find it for you! Just put in "Nutcracker score" and you'll find the latest printing at the top, the previous printing second, and the Taneyev piano reduction of the complete ballet which makes for easier reading, if you're not accustomed to following full scores.

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I didn't quite know which Nutcracker thread to post this clip in, but it would seem appropriate to mention Yevgeni Mravinsky's connection with the "Nutcracker" score - also with other Tchaikovsky works, and with Stravinsky and Balanchine. Mravinsky would have heard the music as it was being conducted in and before 1920, but the tempos he took might have been different and uniquely his. The great virtue of his intrepretations is that he brings out all of the voices and all of the colors, at the expensive perhaps of the dynamics and obvious stresses. I especially like his "Petrouska." There is also a 1946 recording of the Nutrcracker divertissements - difficult to find except for dubious mp3 downloads.

Some background from "St Petersburg: A Cultural History" by Solomon Volkov and Antonina W. Bouis:

Tall, thin, haughty and taciturn ... his favorite composers were Tchaikovsky (whose portrait the conductor carried like a talisman) and Shostakovich; Mravinsky's performances of their works were incomparable.

George Balanchine recalled his friendship with Mravinsky in Petrograd in the 1920’s. In those days Mravinsky made money as an extra at the Maryinsky Theater, and the future choreographer set a poem by the future conductor to music.

Mravinsky also became a zealous exponent of Stravinsky’s works. He gave the first Soviet performance of “Agon,” a serial work, and included the neoclasscial “Apollo” and “Baiser de la fee” in his programs.

In 1948 when Shostakovich’s music was denounced and banned, Mravinsky put the disgraced composer’s Fifth Symphony on the program of the Leningrad Philharmonic. The performance was a great success; the curtain calls would not stop.

Balanchine in Taper:

Mravinsky also conducts Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony well. He shows not only the melodies, in his performance you can see the polyphony ...



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